2018 has given us many things and what a year it has been.
We had various celebrity make-ups, breakups, and baby announcements (some people did all three) mixed in with more than our fair share of social media privacy concerns. Some good movies came out (Avengers, anyone?) and a group of boys were saved from a cave thanks to a harrowing rescue. We had the Winter Olympics and were kept even more on our toes when that raccoon was stuck on the outside of a tall building in Minnesota.
We also had the death of one of the most iconic chefs and personalities of our time, spent hours looking up restaurant reviews, and watched more travel-related food shows than ever before. Plus, a new airline was awarded as the winner in the competition for longest consecutive flight.
Travel products have changed this past year, too, as we have embraced packing cubes (even though we swore we didn't need them), more sophisticated currency cards, and minimalist shoes (and if you're not using shampoo bars you are missing out). Additionally, somebody finally realized that neck pillows aren't comfortable (it only took thousands of discarded ones at airports across the country to make the connection) and made one that actually works.
Hold onto you smart luggage and wireless headphones, here's a look back at twenty-five things from 2018 that changed the way we travel.
25 Thanks To More Media Attention On Top Chefs, We Now Build Travel Itineraries Around Cuisine
Each year, Conde Nast Traveller releases a list of people that are changing the way we travel. This year, some familiar names showed up to the likes of Rene Redzepi and Massimo Bottura.
Both of these chefs make their homes at one of the world's fifty best restaurants. They also both were featured on the popular show, Chef's Table. Thanks to the extra media attention, these restaurants have become the purpose for trips to Denmark and Italy, respectively, rather than just someplace to eat while you're there.
24 The Loss Of A Travel Legend Has Us All Thinking About The Meaning Behind Our Adventures
He might not have been the official person of 2018, according to Time Magazine anyway, but to us he was.
Anthony Bourdain was a man of mystery and great reverence. His travels to places that others wouldn't dare visit (or spend more than a fleeting moment discussing) opened our eyes to everything the world had to offer. He taught us about new foods, new cultures, and new ways of bridging our differences to focus on our similarities. Through him, our adventuring spirit was awakened and our faith in humanity restored.
23 Lonely Planet Named Detroit One Of The Top Ten Cities To Visit
Detroit received no love for years, but in 2018 it made Lonely Planet's top ten cities list.
After financial turmoil and failing in its bid to attract an Amazon headquarters, Detroit received a boost by coming in second on the list of cities around the world to visit (for comparison, the top spot went to Seville, Spain).
According to the Detroit Free Press, downtown Detroit has been revitalized to include new parks, renovated buildings, and a bike-share service. Entrepreneurs are flocking there to be part of the comeback story.
22 Currency Cards Make Exchanging And Spending Money Abroad A Breeze
It's no fun to be stuck with bogus fees just to withdraw (your own) money while traveling and it can be hard to know how much cash you will need in advance (plus, not super safe to walk around with wads of cash). The proliferation of currency cards in 2018 eliminated all of these issues.
Cards like Travelex, Monzo, and WeSwap allow you to load your prepaid card with your choice of currency, lock in one exchange rate, and just swipe or tap wherever debit cards are accepted across the world.
21 Every Company Is Making Wireless Headphones Perfect For Travel
It's 2018, which means we don't have to listen to screaming toddlers, the roar of engines, or frequent cockpit announcements because headphones are better than ever.
Pick your brand and we can pretty much guarantee that they are making noise-canceling headphones. It's a simple supply and demand business practice that totally works: you see one person blissfully enjoying themselves on an airplane while you are about to pull your own hair out and without hesitation, you're ordering a pair for yourself as soon as you touch down.
20 Shampoo Bars Solved Our Liquid Issues
We've all been there. We open our bag and every sock, shirt, and makeup brush is covered in shampoo. It doesn't even seem possible that three ounces could make such a mess, but it does. There must be a better way.
Behold, the shampoo bar. Companies like Lush are selling out of these faster than they can keep them on the shelves. With just a little water, the shampoo bar (that looks like a French cookie) lathers and gives you the cleanest (and best smelling hair). According to The Points Guy, one bar is good for up to eighty washes. Plus, no mess in your bag.
19 The Latest Generation Of Google Chromecast Has Delivered On-The-Go Streaming
Google Chromecast has been in our lives for a few years now, but the latest generation, released in 2018, is pure perfection.
The lightweight device is an easy addition to your carry-on and, according to The Points Guy, can save you from pure boredom while traveling and confined to your room in the event of a catastrophic storm or stomach ailment. One simple move to sync your phone, laptop, or tablet to the television and you're in big-screen, binge-watching paradise.
18 Collapsible Water Bottles Make Hydrating While Traveling Super Economical
A bottle of water at the airport costs roughly twenty dollars (okay, it's not that much but is still super expensive). However, we always fork over the cash because we don't want to carry around a bulky reusable water bottle with us.
Luckily, some engineers that love to travel designed a water bottle that folds flat when empty. The Points Guy recommends the bottle from Vapur, but there is no shortage of companies making these. It's good for your wallet and good for the environment, that's a win-win.
17 Tripods Designed With Travel In Mind Have Led To Amazing Image Captures
If you're traveling alone (or just tend to have a shaky hand), collapsible tripods are your new best friend.
Getting more compact each year, travel tripods are suited for any type of device you may be using to capture images on any terrain (you can finally get that cliffside photo you've been dreaming of). You can even purchase one with bendable legs that wrap around objects.
Your pictures will be amazing and you won't have to ask any strangers to handle your phone (or try to do it yourself and fail miserably to the point of needing a new phone when yours drops and shatters).
16 Smart Luggage Takes Us To New Heights
It is without fail that your phone charger either is left at home or ends up at the bottom of your bag (even when you put it on top). Smart luggage has rectified the charging issue and some even include built-in scales and remote locking.
According to Business Insider, companies like Away and Raden have cashed in on the smart luggage option. This is despite regulations from some airlines related to the rechargeable lithium battery.
Our guess is the luggage will just keep getting smarter until soon we're teleporting inside our bag to our destination (hey, it could happen).
15 The Saturation Of Ride-Hailing Apps Makes It Easier To Get Around
We used to be limited to only exploring areas that we could either drive to ourselves or walk about in. In an era of Uber, Lyft, and many others, that is no longer the case.
According to Roaming Buzz, ride-hailing apps have significantly changed the way we travel. We might not notice the change because it is almost second nature now to hop in the backseat and be taken to any destination we can imagine, but it's there.
Here's to even more ride-hailing success (and thus more adventuring) in 2019!
14 Social Media Provides Endless Travel Inspiration
According to a study reported on by Business Finland, the number one priority for 18-34 year-olds planning a trip is how social media-worthy their pictures would be from any given location.
Social media influencers are paid significant sums of money to post gorgeous travel pictures and convince us all to book our next vacation there. It must be working as one in four millennials state these influencer posts have inspired them to travel to a place they would not have previously known about or considered traveling to.
13 Customer Reviews Are Available Instantly At Our Fingertips
Sites like Trip Advisor and Yelp save us from poor customer service, wilted lettuce, and hours-long waits. They help us know where to go (and where to skip) for group dates, couples dates, and solo dates. They give us the inside scoop on that hotel next to the Interstate that will be so loud you won't sleep. Basically, they're the cherry on top of all our favorite destinations, which is why they made the Roaming Buzz 2018 list of apps that have changed the way we travel.
In 2018, you can look up nearly any city in the world and be met with dozens of restaurant, hotel, and activity recommendations from people that have actually done it.
12 Packing Cubes Help Beginner And Expert Travelers Pack Like Pros
As the Technology Marketing Corporation put it, teens these days don't know how easy they have it when it comes to packing for a trip. We had to bring our Gameboys, Walkmans, and hardcover books, but now there are devices that do all of the entertaining in one.
Although there is a lot more room left sans Walkman, most of us still don't do a great job maximizing that space. Some brave souls finally gave in this year and adopted the use of packing cubes, a new trend that is sweeping the nation. The individually zipped cubes allow you to pack in an organized manner and ensure that no lone items are going to roll or fall out if the bag is opened.
11 Bulky Cameras Are A Thing Of The Past Thanks To Lens Attachments For Smartphones
Raise your hand if you've done a double take at some point this year when seeing a tourist on the street with a huge camera that you can't believe they would pack (yep, that was pretty much everyone).
Now, raise your hand if you've taken at least one blurry picture on your phone this year because you couldn't be bothered to drag out your large camera (again, pretty much everyone).
You probably see where we're going with this and if you guessed optical zoom lens attachments, you would be right. It turns your smartphone into a camera that actually takes good pictures so your friends won't be quite as bored when you insist on showing them your travel photos (go ahead and order one now, we will wait).
10 Compact Door Alarms Bring Peace Of Mind To Travelers
With a rise in home-sharing through sites like Airbnb, there has been a rise in the need for better security. Spending a night in a home that isn't yours in a neighborhood you don't know can be a little frightening, but with the advent of travel alarms that can keep your space safe, there is much less to worry about.
The Intrepid Guide reports that travel alarms were one of the hottest items of 2018 and are a must-purchase item for everyone else in 2019. Their simple, compact design allows them to travel easily and then attach to any door. If anyone so much as touches the doorknob, you are going to know about it.
9 The Invention Of Neck Pillows That Are Actually Comfortable
We have all been that person walking around the airport wearing our neck pillow because we ran out of hands to hold it. Then at the end of the flight we wonder why we even bothered to bring it with us because it was too uncomfortable to manage more than a few minutes of sleep.
Neck pillows have come a long way in the past year, becoming much more stylish and much more comfortable. Both the inflatable, ergonomic pillow from Travelrest as well as the compact, memory foam pillow from Morph (yes to Kickstarter campaigns!) made the Intrepid Guide's list of best travel accessories for 2018.
8 Water Filtration Straws That Eliminate Guesswork For Thirsty Travelers
For less than $12, you can be very certain that the water you are drinking is as pure as pure can be.
LifeStraw is a personal water filtration system (you don't have to drink straight from the source, but you totally can) that tops the list of gizmos and gadgets you need for travel in 2018, at least according to The Intrepid Guide. They are easy to use and small enough to fit into any bag (even for the person that doesn't understand the concept of packing light and has a bag bursting at the seams).
For that price, you should probably get one for everybody you know.
7 A Portable Espresso Machine That Makes The Perfect Latte Whenever And Wherever
Caffeine is no joking matter. Too much or too little and we can't function for the rest of the day. It's just not worth leaving it up to chance and hoping that our travel destination will pull through on the coffee front when we need it most.
Thankfully, there's a handheld espresso machine to solve the world's problems (or at least this particular problem).
Machines like Handpresso are pumped by hand and completely cordless. According to Goats on the Road, all you need to do is add hot water, a pod of your favorite coffee, and pump thirty times. Wake up and smell the coffee!
6 Travel Shoes For All Terrains And Activities That Won't Break The Bank Or The Baggage Weight Limit
If we had to choose one word that represents a theme for travel in 2018, it would be "minimalist".
2018 has been the year for removing clutter from our life and being happy with less (which includes a true attempt at bringing only a few outfits on a weekend trip rather than thirteen).
At the crux of the trend, at least as far as fashion is concerned, there has been movement towards the minimalist shoe. The Intrepid Guide called these comfortable, breathable, light-weight, fold-able, easily-cleanable designs a must-have accessory.